The Censor Censored

Alfredo Fernandez

Iroel Sanchez. Foto:

HAVANA TIMES — According to the April news summary on the Rebelion web site, “A Cuban blogger is suffering censorship in his country.” This blogger is Iroel Sanchez, who was allegedly censored by the Havana correspondent for the Associated Press, a US news agency.

When the responses to his five questions were given to him in two sentences, he denounced this as victimization in the April 28 entry in his blog La pupila insomne, where we can compare the differences between his responses and those published by the new agency.

This horrifies me because no one should be censored, at least if their words aren’t inciting violence, stirring the fires of prejudice or denigrating others.

However, I don’t think this is what happened to Iroel Sanchez.

On the other hand, how can one explain his own actions three years ago as the director Cuban Book Institute (ICL) when he censored a book of short stories (Boring Home, by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo). He was the one who prevented the publication of that work.

Sanchez has not only censored writers, but in his blog he often attempts to discredit those who think differently from himself – branding them “annexationists” or “mercenaries” in the best of cases.

I don’t think AP’s Havana correspondent should ever be given the dubious luxury of giving Iroel a taste of his own medicine.

Such a position by the news agency violates the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the right to free speech or religious freedom.

The journalists writing for AP in Cuba should respect what Iroel says, as long as — I repeat — he doesn’t harm the dignity of any other person or incite violence. In this way they won’t be stooping to the depths of this “blogger” in the pay of the Cuban government.



Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

9 thoughts on “The Censor Censored

  • It’s ironic that I should be accused of sounding like something from 50 years ago. In fact it is the US imperialist campaign of regime change against Cuba that is stuck in a time warp 50 years old.

    The supposed competitiveness of the US media corporations is another fatuous irrelevancy. In particular, the media corporation heads don’t have to “sit down” together to plan attacks on Cuba.

    That’s because the US regime has numerous employees who are well paid to plan the anti-Cuban propaganda campaign, at the State Department and at the CIA and at various think tanks (like the ICCAS at the University of Miami) awash in political interference slush funds and at the Radio and TV Martí official anti-Cuban propaganda channel (admittedly the last is a dismal failure and a scam).

    None of this is a secret: the US regime often boasts of its illegal campaign of political interference aimed at regime change in Cuba and funds it openly and amply out of taxes. The US corporate media don’t have to invest in planning their anti-Cuban propaganda, all they have to do is fall in with the latest anti-Cuban campaign tropes and stunts manufactured for them by the US imperial regime.

    Nor does the fact that US corporate media are in competition mean they can’t “work together”. Again it’s pointing out the bleeding obvious to mention that these supposedly mutually hostile competitors factually do associate in the Associated Press, which they jointly own. The Associated Press is the corporate propaganda factory which, along with Reuters, produces the bulk of all the foreign news which is then rebadged and retailed by the newspapers in the US and throughout the English-speaking world.

  • Richard Cheeseman, if that is his real name, is spouting the same ole’ regime-speak. His comments could have been written 50 years ago. He sounds like he’s referring to a Star Wars movie and not what happens in the real world. The fact is that AP reporters are unique individuals who write stories hoping to be published on the front page. These media barons that Cheeseman refers to ultimately report to shareholders and shareholders tend to be apolitical when it comes to share price. If it would sell more newspapers, therefore increase profits, to write nice things about Cuba, then nice things would appear. At present, there is this dinosaur dictator who refuses to die and his puppet little brother running things. Are you kidding? This is an editor’s dream. Who wouldn’t want to attack these guys? What is naive is to think that the CEO of the New York Times sits down with the CEO of McClatchy News, LA Times and the Washington Post and collectively decides “let’s screw Cuba today”. They are in competition and the last thing they want to do is work together.

  • On the original hatchet job by Mr Fernández my comment is simply to juxtapose these two revealing quotes:

    “[Sánchez] often attempts to discredit those who think differently from himself — branding them ‘annexationists’ or ‘mercenaries’ in the best of cases.”

    “The journalists writing for AP in Cuba should respect what Iroel says, as long as — I repeat — he doesn’t harm the dignity of any other person […] In this way they won’t be stooping to the depths of this ‘blogger’ in the pay of the Cuban government.”

  • This is absurdly naïve because it neglects well known and pertinent facts.

    The news agenda of the Associated Press, a collective of US media corporations, is the same as the agenda of the corporations which make it up: promoting the interests of their capitalist owners through news production.

    Those interests do indeed include selling newspapers by producing sensational news but the corporate media are also obliged to promote the broader interests of the media barons. Media barons are wealthy capitalists who are naturally in favour of capitalism and in favour of the freedom of speech through mass media being reserved for capitalist media owners and their agents (this is the capitalist “freedom of speech” guaranteed by the US Constitution’s First Amendment, so ignorantly cited by Mr Fernandez). Taking these political interests of their owners to heart, capitalist corporate media are therefore unanimously and actively hostile to socialism.

    In the case of the US and Cuba, more than routine anti-socialism is involved, because Cuba is a rebellious former colony of the US empire whose independence the empire has not accepted. US media corporations are 100% in favour of US imperialism and supportive of the empire’s attempt to reimpose a puppet capitalist regime over revolutionary Cuba.

    As part of its imperialist campaign of subversion in Cuba, the empire (with the assistance of some of its European satellite regimes) conducts an information war against Cuba which as well as hiring mercenary political agents (including bloggers, notwithstanding Mr Fernandez’s telling refusal to face this reality) also extends to frequent media provocations and fabrications and to routine day-in-day-out vilification and denigration of Cuba’s government and social system. AP loyally plays an active part in that information warfare.

    Within that imperialist media narrative right wing bloggers play the role of heroes and martyrs of freedom, with the reprehensible Yoani Sánchez (whose martyrdom must have been considerably ameliorated by the hundreds of thousands of dollars the imperialists have awarded her) as the campaign’s star turn. Obviously bloggers who are not opponents of Cuban socialism don’t fit that narrative well at all, and that’s why the AP was obliged to denigrate the recent gathering of Cuban bloggers and why the reporter misused the interview with Mr Sánchez to do so.

  • I’m Brazilian, I just think that the press is *more* than just business…

  • “Stop thinking like a Cuban” means stop assuming the that the primary role of the press is to influence public opinion. Admittedly, members of the press in the US bring their personal biases to their writing, reporting and editing. But at the end of the day, the primary motivation of the press is to sell newspapers.(or magazines, or internet space, you get the point). But to think like a Cuban means to think that the goal is to convince the reader to maintain or even alter world views to conform to a particular mindset. In most cases, this means to shape the reader to believe that the US is bad and Cuba is good. The NYT would more likely print a story about Obama having committed some egregious error as they would print an article about Fidel having made the same mistake. The Obama story sells more newspapers. Granma could not say the same in reverse. For this reason Luis, I believe that you see an omission in the AP story as a means to manipulate public opinion because you are Cuban. On the other hand, I believe it to be simply an editorial decision because they needed more space to run a story about Lindsay Lohan’s short skirts.

  • “Stop thinking like a Cuban”

    What? And why? Aren’t for several, different Cuban views of the world the reason you visit this very site?

  • Luis, while I did not see Iroel responses, I do know the AP reporter and I am familiar with the their editorial style. AP is an internationally-recognized news bureau with thousands of contributing reporters all over the world. Iroel is not even a big fish in the miniscule Cuban pond. It is highly unlikely his responses were edited for content. The length of his responses or the redundancy may be to blame. Moreover, editorially, AP is more likely to include controversial content than exclude it. Especially from someone they can associate with the regime. Finally, you indicated that AP may have wanted to “manipulate the reader’s opinion according to their interests”. Stop thinking like a Cuban. The only manipulation that an AP editor pursues is how to sell more advertising. There is an old adage in the news business, “If it bleeds, it leads”. Op-ed pages are for selling opinions, news and interviews sell advertising.

  • The news agencies do this questionable practice constantly, that is, publishing only parts of what the interviewed said to them in order to manipulate the reader’s opinion according to their interests.

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